NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-S2.06-8634 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034371)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Advanced Photon Detectors
PROPOSAL TITLE:Improved High Efficiency MCPs for Detection of Photons and Large Biomolecules

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Integrated Micro Sensors Inc.
10814 Atwell Dr.
Houston ,TX 77096 - 4934
(713) 748 - 7926

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John C Boney
10814 Atwell Dr.
Houston ,TX  77096 -4934
(713) 748 - 7926
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

This SBIR Phase I proposes to investigate the use of proprietary coating materials to enhance the sensitivity, efficiency, and lifetime of microchannel plate (MCP) detectors. These detectors would be the basis for novel active layer multi dynode detectors for Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry as well as detectors of energetic photons. Previous work has led to the discovery that these materials have excellent potential for use as enhanced secondary electron emission yield (SEEY) coatings. We have observed up to a factor of three increase in SEEY from these coatings when compared to commercial detectors. High SEEYs are particularly crucial to the detection of high mass molecules: The low detection efficiency for large biomolecular ions is a major limitation of commercial MCP detectors. Furthermore, the materials under development have high thermal conductivity and sputtering resistance and are thus ideally suited for long life and high count rate detectors. Under this proposal, we intend to undertake a detailed investigation of the use of proprietary coating materials to improve on commercial MCPs. We will characterize the SEEY of these new detectors under the impact of mono-energetic ions, large biomolecules, and x-rays in order to test their potential use for high-mass MS energetic photon applications.

MCPs are currently used in astrophysics observatories to detect a range of photon wavelengths. In all of these ranges, improvement in MCP sensitivity and efficiency would be highly advantageous. Commercialization would be in the form of better MCP detectors which could be retrofitted into existing MCP-based applications.

Rugged high count rate detectors with good detection efficiencies for large ions will have a huge range of applications in time of flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS) in general and specifically in biological mass spectrometry. The most straightforward approach is the coating of commercial microchannel plates with our novel active materials to increase the detection efficiency. This will be done in strategic alliance with Ionwerks, a major manufacturers of TOF-MS systems. A market for these improved MCPs will already exist at the end of this Phase I since Ionwerks will be able to incorporate the new units into existing TOF-MS systems.